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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Call Me LaTroy

I’m the LaTroy Hawkins of Mets fandom.

At least I hope I am.

LaTroy Hawkins, 40 and a veteran pitcher, hasn’t pitched in a game yet and is not particularly concerned about that. He thinks spring training is too long, doesn’t seem too interested in the World Baseball Classic, and says he’ll be ready for the season.

Jason Fry, 43 and a veteran fan, has watched games somewhat half-heartedly so far and is … well, I don’t think I’m terribly concerned about that. I think spring training is too long, don’t give a fig about the World Baseball Classic, and sure hope I’ll be ready for the season.

I’ve thought spring training is too long for years, largely because it is: Pitchers need time to force their arms to adapt to the unnatural, ultimately destructive things done to them while standing on a mound, but for batters spring training is a holdover from generations ago, when guys drove trucks or sold clothes all winter, and a good chunk of them arrived in Florida needing to be turned back into athletes after an offseason spent like the rest of us. (Or, it seems, like Johan Santana, here thrown under the bus by Sandy Alderson via six or seven different conditionals and circumlocutions.) Now baseball players spend their off-seasons under the thumbs of nutritionists and personal trainers and hopefully staying away from dodgy Florida clinics. While pitchers torture their arms into surrender for another season, hitters arrive more or less ready and as fans we just hope they can make it six weeks without getting hurt/bitten by an alligator/succumbing to trouble in restaurant parking lots/going dangerously stir-crazy.

Yeah, hitters talk about getting their timing down, but of course they do — they’re hitters. It’s like CPAs chattering about taxes. Hitters talk about losing their timing when they wind up in slumps in May or July or September, too. Is that because spring training’s lessons have faded away? It’s all silly.

What would make more sense would be for pitchers to face minor-leaguers — who are gung-ho and have tons to prove — until St. Patrick’s Day, at which point the hitters would show up, everybody would don horrible green uniforms for a day, and the real not-real games would begin, to mercifully end after two weeks, which is pretty much when the novelty of spring training wears off and becomes a plodding grind.

Since my plan has zero chance of being adopted, I’m approaching spring training on the LaTroy Hawkins plan — and this year, at least, I’m finding that a fit for the 2013 Mets.

I’m interested in seeing more of Matt Harvey, of Zack Wheeler, and of Travis d’Arnaud — those guys are the keys to our medium-term future, which means no sifting through tea leaves is too much. I of course want the best for Jon Niese and Dillon Gee and David Wright and Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada, whose years will probably determine whether the Mets leave 2013 looking ready for their resurrection or in need of an execution. But those players are making the team and I have baseline expectations for them — their dramas will unfold during the regular season, not March.

As for the rest of the club, I can’t get myself worked up about what bullpen spaghetti will be judged to have stuck to the wall by April 1, since those judgments will likely have little to do with how things go in the regular season and they’ll soon be replaced by newfound sagacity. Nor am I interested in an early read on what synonyms for “bad” and/or “pathetic” will prove most appropriate for our outfield. I’ll have six months to torture myself about that problem, so why start now?

I used to know it was truly spring when my blog partner would get anxious that this was the year he really wasn’t feeling it, and his fandom was in peril. (In case you haven’t noticed, that’s never happened and never will.) For my part, I’ve come to accept that this is a normal March for me — a mixture of anticipation for the season and increasing certainty that all this noise and makework has little to do with that season.

April 1 really is coming. And I’ll be ready. But I’m getting ready on the LaTroy plan.

8 comments to Call Me LaTroy

  • Patrick O'Hern

    Dead on post- feel the same way.

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    Ready for what? Another crappy under .500 year with being out of it by May and trying to unload players that anybody will take by July?

    The only thing to get ready for is ” The Battle for the Basement” and if we can hold off the Marlins.

    Go early and often in April, as the crickets will be out in force by June.

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  • Dave

    Oh, I’m with you. Always excited when the first telecast comes on, but after a while it gets tedious. Do we really need a month’s worth of games to figure out that a guy who’s been given uniform #91 isn’t a major leaguer?

  • Andee

    Heck, the season doesn’t start for me, really, until D’Arnaud and/or Wheeler are up. But I’ll still watch, because a) I’m insane and there are no meds for this aspect of my condition, and b) my “alternative” is the Mariners, and they aren’t even all that close.

    The Santana thing was bizarre. First Sandy says he’s not going to be on a mound for 10 days, there’s all kinds of media whinging about it, and then boom, the next day he’s up there? It sounds to me like Santana was making a big to-do about getting ready for the WBC and preparing himself for taking all kinds of tests to qualify, and ragged his arm (or more likely, his balky shoulder) out. And Johan is one of those tough guys who never, ever cops to being hurt even if he is. Going out there without velocity (i.e. what he had the first ten weeks of last year) would be all kind of awful, much worse than him never pitching again, and this is a guy you have to drag out of the rotation kicking and screaming.

    And Sandy would probably like to rip him a lot worse for this than he did, and to be honest, Johan might deserve it. This is a guy who’s going to be making ONE-THIRD (almost) of the active roster’s total payroll; if he can’t take a little throat-clearing from the people who are cutting him that massive check, let him retire. To be fair, though, he and everyone else involved are kind of in uncharted waters here; only a handful of pitchers have ever pitched after having shoulder capsule surgery at all, and none have gotten as far as a no-no. It’s not like they have role models for pitchers trying to do this in their 30s, unlike the bazillion pitchers who have had successful TJ.

    • Joe D.

      Hi Andee,

      Forgive me, I didn’t put two and two together and recognize you are stuck between following either the Mariners or the Mets.

      You are to be admired to be able to endure that without the use of those meds!

      • Andee

        It’s so, so weird to observe the difference between Mets fans and Mariners fans. Both teams have similar problems, but Mariners fans just tend to shrug and roll their eyes about it. They don’t take it personally at all. At least not the ones I’ve encountered. And the Mariners are one of only two (Nats/Expos being the other) that has never won a pennant (though in the Cubs’ case it’s been long enough that almost everyone who was around for their last pennant is dead now). Drought? Meh. Who cares. King Felix is awesome!

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    Oh, what this franchise has turned into –
    I don’t think I’ve ever read you being so gloomy before the start of aseason before.

    But the fact is that baseball is also a business and right now the financial concerns of the Mets makes it where the the business of baseball takes a back seat to baseball as that business. When one looks at the Wilpon’s financial situation regarding the Mets and the actions that have been required and still would be, one is only fooling his or her self to think this is baseball as usual. This is not about baseball – this is about the real world of corporate business and saving what could be a long-term billion dollar enterprise from falling out of the current owner’s hands. These type-measures are taken by big industry all the time – they just do not get the spotlight because it’s not an attention grabber like sports

    Doesn’t make Sandy a bad guy, either. I have absolutely NO DOUBT IN MY MIND that Sandy wants to see a world championship flag flying as soon as possible over Citifield but that he also will not admit to the public that the Mets still cannot afford to take the steps to do that during this time. He is a business person and that is not his immediate or most pressing priority.

    Once the Mets get their financial house in better shape, with less debt, more revenue and better credit rating they can back to making the business of baseball their priority. But not now.

    It’s a shame that we are forced to look at the Mets beyond baseball simply because business is not as usual but that with the actions taken – accompanied by statements that later proved to be hollow and more double-talk than anything else – it cannot be avoided (though some might still try to turn a blind eye to it). Again, that double-talk does not make Sandy a bad guy, either. It’s just something that goes with the trade.

    But for now, the Mets are walking on financial eggshells.